Pregnancy and parenting can be challenging for everyone. Below, Dr. Nicole Cirino shares some tips for new and expecting moms who are navigating pregnancy and parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Limit stressful news, information. Get key information, if needed, but stick to reliable news sources in short increments. Repeating news over and over and watching others suffer is not helpful for the pregnant or postpartum brain, which is already sensitive to perceived threat.
- Keep up daily routines. Get dressed every day, keep a schedule and eat and sleep at the same time if possible, so your brain can anticipate some of its normal routines. This will help it manage other changes to your daily life that may be out of your control.
- Practice evidence-based stress reductions techniques. These include guided imagery, meditation, breathing exercises. Apps we particularly like are Mind the Bump, Headspace, and Expectful.
- Continue adequate nutrition and sleep which together help your body build resilience to stress.
- Maintain social connection. Luckily, in 2020 this can be done virtually. Make contact at least daily with your support persons through virtual apps like FaceTime, Zoom, Webex, Houseparty or other easy to use live platforms. Organizations that specialize in providing support for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are now offering virtual support groups, peer mentorship and other educational seminars.
- Postpartum Support International continues to offer multiple weekly support groups online as well as education and seminars on anti-anxiety strategies.
- A local, Portland-based, organization, Baby Blues Connection, has transitioned all their live support groups for perinatal people to virtual live streaming and are offering education seminars on COVID-19 and coping strategies for postpartum patients.
- Seek mental health help if needed. The OHSU Center for Women’s Health has mental health providers who are offering virtual visits. Ask your obstetric provider for an evaluation and a referral.
Nicole Cirino, M.D.
Director, Division of Women’s Mental Health and Wellness
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine
Associate Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine
Oregon Health & Science University